KINGDOM BULLETIN #16
I recently watched the 2019 Annual Meeting presentation on JW Broadcast. I was especially interested in the part presented by David Splane on the Watchtower’s adjusted understanding of Joel. My interest had been piqued months earlier as a result of rumors circulating on the Internet to the effect that the Governing Body no longer considered Jehovah’s Witnesses to be symbolized by the onrushing locust plague. (See YouTube video Watchtower’s New Light on Joel)
Some of the current members of the Governing Body were not then part of the body and may not know, but as far back as 1997 I presented several articles to the Watchtower discussing the prophecy of Joel; specifically, how the locusts could not possibly represent Jehovah’s Witnesses— a view that the organization has now adopted. The same information was refined and appeared as a chapter called Joel in the book Jehovah Himself Has Become King, which was gifted to all members of the Governing Body and branch offices of the Watchtower in 2005 and more broadly to the public over the past 15 years.
Having a special interest in prophecy and being devoted to publishing its meaning as well, particularly as it applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses during the second coming of Jesus Christ, and now my interpretation even being validated by the Governing Body, albeit, perhaps reluctantly, I must say that I’ve come to be even more dismayed and perplexed after viewing David Splane’s “explanation” of Joel.
Brother Splane drew our attention to Joel 2:28-29 and the two words: “after that” in order to establish a timeframe. Having identified the locusts as the Babylonian hordes, the speaker then explained that “after that” applied to 1919. So, are Jehovah’s Witnesses now to believe that after Babylon destroyed Jerusalem 2,500 years later God made compensation by pouring out his spirit on the Bible Students assembled at Cedar Point? Thinking persons ought to wonder why God would make compensation to the International Bible Students for the loss suffered by the Jews at the hands of the Babylonians.
I don’t know what is worse, the crazy notion that the locusts represent Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Governing Body’s most recent new light twaddle.
I did appreciate, though, that Brother Splane noted that the reason the Governing Body could not understand Joel before is because it wasn’t time for Jehovah to enlighten them. How true that is. And it is obvious— at least to me— that Jehovah still has not seen fit to lift the veil. This, of course, is part of prophecy too. As foretold in the prophecy of Isaiah: “Be stunned and amazed; blind yourselves and be blinded. They are drunk, but not with wine; they are staggering, but not from alcohol. For Jehovah has poured a spirit of deep sleep on you; He has closed your eyes, the prophets, And he has covered your heads, the visionaries.” —Isaiah 29:9-10
As Jehovah foretold, the blindness afflicting the would-be interpreters of prophecy— those considered to be prophets and visionaries— is self-induced. That is why God says: “blind yourselves.” The blindness of Jehovah’s Witnesses all results from the Watchtower’s deluding influence regarding the supposed return of Christ in 1914 and the exaltation of the organization as the embodiment of the Kingdom of God.
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses will be deeply offended by the mere suggestion that the exalted faithful slave is spiritually drunk and blind, there is no other conclusion to draw. Anyone who honestly compares the prophecy of Joel with the Watchtower’s interpretation of it— either the old, now-discarded “understanding,” or the, latest patchwork revision— can only come away in sheer befuddlement.
But, given the Watchtower’s inchoate interpretation of Joel, we may at the very least now appreciate why in the opening words of the prophecy God addresses the elders and priests serving in his temple as drunkards, saying: “Hear this, you elders, and pay attention, all you inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers?… Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you wine drinkers, Because the sweet wine has been taken from your mouths. For a nation has come up into my land, mighty and without number.”
The Watchtower’s folly is in placing the invasion of the “northerner” to the distant past. It is true, as Brother Splane noted, there is a connection between Jehovah’s military force described in Joel and the military force portrayed in the 13th chapter of Isaiah. Although the Governing Body has recently disavowed the type/anti-type approach to understanding prophecy, except where it is clearly warranted, the prophecy of Isaiah in connection with Nebuchadnezzar’s army certainly presents such a type. Or is it merely hyperbole that Isaiah defines Jehovah’s military force as bringing ruin on all the earth? Are we really to suppose that the day of Jehovah and the destruction from the Almighty cast no shadow into the immediate future? (Is. 13:5-6) The Watchtower’s visionaries certainly recognize that the day of Jehovah mentioned in the vision of Zephaniah numerous times applies far beyond Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem. That being the case, why has the Governing Body confined the day of Jehovah in Isaiah and Joel to the ancient past?
In truth, the prophecy of Joel has nothing to do with the Babylonian invasion of Judah. The locust hordes— Jehovah’s military force that brings ruin to all the earth— represents the global forces of the eighth king– the final manifestation of the king of the north who is destined to sweep through “the land of Decoration” during the time of the end.
If only the blind prophets could see, they would know that the unique global disaster betokened in Joel will find fulfillment during the great tribulation. That is why it is described this way: “It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick gloom, like light of dawn spreading out on the mountains. There is a people numerous and mighty; never before has there been one like it, and never again will there be another through the years of all generations.”
Those who are not completely asleep— or as Jesus frequently said, ‘let he who has an ear hear’— will surely recognize the similarity to the way that Jesus described the uniqueness of the great tribulation when he said: “For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”
Furthermore, just as Jesus foretold that the heavens would be shaken and the sun would grow dark and the moon be turned to blood, Joel uses the same apocalyptic phraseology, saying: “Before them the land trembles and the heavens rock. Sun and moon have become dark, and the stars have lost their brightness.”
Contrary to the Watchtower’s self-serving interpretations of Joel, the prophecy is intended as a real-time message from Jehovah to his people at the time of the locust onslaught and the purpose of the plague is to bring about a change of heart in his people. That is why we read God’s exhortation: “Yet even now,” declares Jehovah, “return to me with all your hearts, with fasting and weeping and wailing. Rip apart your hearts, and not your garments, and return to Jehovah your God, for he is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love, and he will reconsider the calamity. Who knows whether he will turn back and reconsider and leave behind a blessing, a grain offering and a drink offering for Jehovah your God?”
“Even now” is not in the distant past. It is Jehovah lovingly beseeching his people in the future, during the horrific collapse of civilization. The very fact that the Governing Body exudes an air of holiness and would never consent to have any need of repentance is exactly why Jehovah is obliged to bring Jehovah’s Witnesses to their knees by terror. After all, does not Isaiah also say in connection with the inebriated seers: “Only terror will make them understand”?
The prophecy of Joel portends the end of the global preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses against the backdrop of what will surely be World War Three. There is no reason to expound any more upon it here, as I have presented these matters in great detail. Again, let him who has an ear— hear.
Although the blindness of the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses is virtually impenetrable, let the Watchtower be hereby put on notice that the onrushing military force of Jehovah is about to be unleashed. Surely, then the anointed leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses will, at last, fulfill the words found in Joel: “Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar. Come in and spend the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God; for grain offering and drink offering have been withheld from the house of your God. Proclaim a fast; call for a solemn assembly. Gather the elders together, with all the inhabitants of the land, to the house of Jehovah your God, and cry to Jehovah for help.”
This open letter is being distributed to hundreds of elders electronically and directly to all members of the Governing Body via snail mail along with a copy of The Second Coming of Christ.